Sparkling Cider

Bacon is not a food I enjoy making. Grease spits everywhere! Before I am done frying the package, the skin on my arms is blotchy with burn marks, my clothes are spotted with grease stains, and the walls and stovetop need to be wiped down.

One night, not that long ago, I had already mixed up some homemade pancake batter and had several pancakes browning to perfection on the skillet before I realized I had not yet started the bacon. I was ravenous, and this must have been a hunger-induced oversight. I set the frying pan on the stove, spread a few slices across the bottom, and cranked the dial to a heat setting of seven.

Fortunately, my grease-hating self was rescued when Tim, my husband, wandered into the kitchen just in time to take over the bacon-cooking portion of dinner duty. He commented that I was going to start a grease fire with the burner set so high. I was not worried about a fire. I was worried about my hunger. And besides, using any setting below five is for those who snack when they get home for the evening. I came home at six and would have ruined my appetite for dinner if I had eaten a snack.

“Good thing I know where the fire extinguisher is in our house…as long as it is rated for grease fires,” I joked. (Yes, I know covering the pan with a lid or pouring baking soda on the fire are the best options.)

For fun, I opened the cabinet near the sink and pulled out the fire extinguisher to look at the ratings (ours has a rating of A, B, and C) and the last date it had been checked. I am pretty sure that little red bottle is at least twelve years old and has never been tested. When I put it back, unconcerned by the probable inadequacy of it, I noticed the sparkling juice I had bought for Thanksgiving, put away, and forgotten about. In my opinion, it was not a good night for such a sweet drink given the sugar content in maple syrup, but I pulled it out and placed it on the counter so it would not be forgotten about again. Tim said we should open it anyway citing that it would be just like drinking grape juice at breakfast.

My son, Ian, set the table, being sure to give everyone a plate, fork, knife, and cup while Tim and I brought the pancakes, bacon, and strawberries into the dining room. I had chocolate chip pancakes with banana slices and do not like butter or syrup on them, so I decided to open the sparkling juice while the boys spread butter on their quickly cooling pancakes.

I meticulously peeled the foil label around the mouth of the bottle and realized I needed a bottle opener. With tool in hand, I popped that little metal cap easily. I could not take my eyes off the bottle though because the fizzy juice started to climb to the top. It seemed like it was happening in slow motion, but I knew I did not have time to grab the bottle and run it to the sink without it spilling all over the floor.

All eyes were on the bottle, but I was the only one who reacted. I snatched up the bottle and put my mouth over the opening. It was not my most brilliant idea and did nothing to prove that I am somewhat intelligent, but it was what came to mind in my calorie-deprived brain.

Realizing about two seconds too late that the foam was not going to stop, I stood to run to the sink with the bottle still in my mouth. Sparkling cider started to pour out of my nose before I made it. It was worse than jumping into a heavily chlorinated pool and getting water in my nose. The painful stinging in my sinuses made my eyes start to water immediately, and I crashed into the counter at the sink. I coughed and choked for a minute and burst out laughing.

It was hysterical. The whole scene. The stupidity of it. My burning nose. The taste of the cider that started to drain down the back of my throat. The pink-tinged tissue after I blew my nose. The need to snort saline to rinse my sinuses.

I know accidentally flushing my nose with an incredibly carbonated beverage is not directly related to my mental health or my healing journey, but it kind of is—in a very important way. You see, not that long ago, my husband would have had to make dinner and then convince me, no, force me, to get out of bed to eat. It is not likely that I would have been opening the bottle, but if for some reason I had been the one doing it, I would have watched the volcanic mess just long enough to see how bad it was and conclude that I was an inconvenience and worthless waste of space.  Then, I would have cried, ran back to my bed, and refused to eat dinner or leave the bedroom. Life was too much back then, and something like that would have exhausted what little physical and emotional energy I had.

None of that was true of me on this night. I was an active contributor in making dinner. I was joking around in the kitchen. I was flipping pancakes poorly because I was simultaneously singing and dancing. When we sat down at the table, I was the one to open the bottle of cider that I was not interested in drinking. I was the one who reacted when the foam and juice started to spill.

I was laughing. I was having fun. I was experiencing joy. I was in the moment. I was alive.


A few years ago, I talked about my healing journey being like one of my favorite road runs. A relatively flat two-mile jaunt takes me to a stop sign where I can either turn around for an easy four-mile run, or I can turn right and keep going up a long, steep hill for a five-miler. I climb that hill by focusing on telephone poles. Each pole is both a mark of progress and a new target or goal to pursue. Figuratively, when I look toward the bottom of the hill that I have been climbing the past three and a half years, I see just how many telephone poles I have passed to get here. Sure, I have walked or crawled up the hill at times, maybe even stopped to catch my breath and rest my legs. I may have even gone back downhill a short distance a time or two, but I have made progress!

A stupid incident with a bottle of sparkling cider is the perfect example of the progress I have made, and honestly, I am proud of myself.

When was the last time you reflected on your progress? When was the last time you felt alive? If it has been a while, I have three more bottles of sparkling cider in my cupboard. Come on over.

2 thoughts on “Sparkling Cider

  1. I am anxious to have a sinus clean-out moment to feel “alive” and joyful. I don’t know that I’ve had those since my kids were little. I look forward to my continuing journey to feel it.
    Thanks for the story, I can picture you in all of it.


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